Burlington Retro knows you. It knows you had childhood nightmares about your family car driving off this dead-end ramp on I-93 just north of downtown Boston. And now, as an adult, you still question why it’s there.
That appendage was the beginning of the ill-fated Interstate 695, an inner beltway that was supposed to form a tight semi-circle around Boston, looping you through Cambridge, Brookline and taking you back to I-93 in the South End.
It never happened. The 1960s “highway revolts” killed a lot of projects like this one, prompting Gov. Francis W. Sargent to invest in public transportation instead.
What does this have to do with Burlington? Here’s the interchange of Route 3 (heading top/bottom) and Route 128, in 1955. See the Route 3 appendage just south of the interchange?
Route 3 was supposed to continue south through Winchester and join Route 2 in Arlington, which in turn was supposed to connect to — you guessed it — the new Interstate 695 inner beltway. But since that beltway was cancelled, there was no need for Route 3 to continue past Burlington. So Burlington’s ghost highway and Boston’s ghost ramp are cousins, connected by a relative who never made it into the world.
In 1967, Burlington considered connecting Route 3 to Adams Street, to usher Lexington-bound traffic past the Middlesex Turnpike in Burlington. The idea didn’t fly: